Dawn Bertoni: Life’s Journeys & Challenges

My journey began in 1973 at the age of five when I was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes.  Although my life changed diabetes did not define me.  I have always lived my life focusing on what I could do, not what I couldn’t.   I knew that diabetes was a disease and the complications, but there were others who had it much worse.

As a young child I was involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.  Every summer I went to diabetic camp.     I learned I was not alone and how a positive attitude could be used to help and support others and not just those who had diabetes.

During my teen years my limitations were really few. I was always involved with sports playing youth soccer and high school softball.  I was a high school cheerleader, worked at Seaport Village, traveled to Mexico and Hawaii, drove a sports car, and enrolled in college basically enjoying a normal life.

At the age of twenty-one, the disease took its first major toll, blindness.   Was it difficult? Yes! Was it emotional? Yes! But I could still hear laughter, walk on the beach and hug and talk to my family and friends.  My limitations were only what I wanted them to be.   Attending the San Diego Center for the blind, taught me mobility with a cane, braille and basic skills that helped me live with the challenges I was facing.   I also went to the Braille Institute and have maintained connections with many from both the Center and the Institute.   My teacher friends rallied around me asking me to come into their classrooms and talk to their students.  What fun explaining and educating the children about my experiences with blindness.    So my journey was continuing, inspiring, helping, supporting and educating others, this is was what I was destined to do.

As in all journeys my next one arrived ten years after I lost my sight.  I went into renal failure and was placed on a Kidney/Pancreas transplant list.  Thirteen months of dialysis.   My angel came on May 7th 2000.  What a gift and a blessing.  I have always felt a spiritual connection with my donor and made a promise to always honor his memory and never forgetting the unselfish act of his family to give me life.   For thirteen years I lived without blood testing and was insulin injection free.  Unfortunately my journey has taken a turn and although my transplanted kidney is working perfectly my pancreas isn’t.  I will anxiously await a new pancreas and adjust my life again as a diabetic.

Please join me on my transplant journey to help educate others and register organ donors, not for me but because of me and the thousands of others who are in need of various transplants.

My inspiration comes from my family and my friends.

I always keep believing and never give up.

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